Safety professionals teach the importance of teaching children their home address and other contact information in case of emergencies at home, if they get lost while away from home for the day, while you are moving or on vacation. Children with developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions or other special needs are vulnerable in emergency situations, especially when traveling away from home or on day trips to other cities; on vacation, school trips, or for medical appointments and hospitalizations.
Parents provide emergency information medical tags that are available as bracelets, necklaces and shoe charms, may mark clothing with names and contact information, or use ID tattoos when their children are away from home each day. For children who are not yet verbal, non-verbal, late talkers or those with articulation or communication delays, some parents write contact information directly on a child's skin with semi-permanent markers when they are away from home, or if they have a tendency to wander, run away or become 'escape artists' in their own homes.
Recognizing these difficulties, especially if a child has a chronic health condition or a dual diagnosis, it is still worthwhile to make an effort to teach our children important information to tell emergency personnel and first responders who can help return them to us. What we teach them while they are children, teens and young adults can help them communicate critical information throughout their lives.
Teaching identification skills in IEPs from preschool through transition at age 21 can be described in ways that are developmentally appropriate whether a student has learning disabilities, communication delays, or other challenges. Understanding and recognizing how and with whom to share personal information is another part of these efforts.
While it is only natural for parents to teach a street address first, teaching the zip code or city and state first may be more helpful. Even if a child's family moves to a different zip code, it is often possible to track where they have relocated from the neighborhood where they were previously known. When I was a child, my grandmother taught me that she lived at 7546 McGee and I remember that address, still. It was not until years later I learned the city and state where her street existed. She taught all of her grandchildren her address in case we got lost in the neighborhood, so the rest was unnecessary. In my mind, all locations were just down the block and around the corner from her house.
Browse at your local bookstore, library or online retailer for books like Where Do I Live? or Cops and Kids - A Very Special Friendship, and Murphy's Safety Songs